Clark Hoyt, go soak your head
I don’t know Cintra Wilson.
In fact, I never heard of Cintra Wilson before Clark Hoyt, the humorless public editor of The New York Times, did a Torquemada on her Sunday, but now I am Cintra Wilson’s number-one fanboy. I am prepared to die that Cintra Wilson may live.
But I want Clueless Clark to go first. I want him fed to the sharks without further ado. Adieu! Spring the trap door. Blam! Down he goes! Splash! Crunch! Bleed! Oo, that felt good.
Let me now make this diatribe even more apocalyptic: You, Clark Hoyt and the cluck-clucking, brain-dead editors (starting with the Times’ Louis XVI wannabe, Bill Keller) who agreed with your Babbitt-like op-ed-page hit job on the witty and readable Wilson, are one of the reasons why the Times is having that little problem we all keep hearing about…you know, the sliding-into-oblivion thing?
Because it’s boring. Always has been but now, because there’s actual competition, people notice. And here you are, Clark, proclaiming, “Let’s make it still more boring!”
This might just be the absolute worst time in the history of newspapers to come out for boring.
OK, the nut graf: Cintra Wilson is a freelance (i.e. badly paid) contributor who writes the Critical Shopper column for the Times, alternating with another writer. Instead of just manufacturing standard service-piece boilerplate tedium, she puts some actual style in the Fashion & Style section. Some bite. Some humor. So now she writes a piece on J.C. Penney opening its first store in Manhattan. Dares to make fun of Penney! Calls it dowdy. And worst of all, she makes fat jokes:
And herein lies the genius of J. C. Penney: It has made a point of providing clothing for people of all sizes (a strategy, company officials have said, to snatch business from nearby Macy’s. To this end, it has the most obese mannequins I have ever seen. They probably need special insulin-based epoxy injections just to make their limbs stay on. It’s like a headless wax museum devoted entirely to the cast of “Roseanne.”
Oh boy, roll out the tumbrels.
Readers write in and, OMG, they’re complaining! Ow, it hurts, it hurts. Their tender sensibilities have been bruised, their honor, their taste and their waistlines insulted. Oh boo hoo! Excuse me while I weep copious tears. Helen from Baltimore was dismayed at the column’s “fat hatred, class bias and nasty humor,” according to Hoyt. Kristin Ann from Seattle was offended. Sarah from Virginia saw the column was “saturated with disdain.” Other readers found it “a voice for class privilege,” “hateful,” “genuinely cruel” and “smug.”
Gadzooks! Panic in the newsroom! They’re saying we of the Times who strive so hard not to condescend to our inferiors are arrogant elitist tubby-prole bashers! Aiiiieeee! That really hoits! That’s about the worst thing you can say to a sensitive Times editor. Let the soul searching begin! “By the time the column got around to some praise for Penney’s and the caricature of the kind of Manhattanite who does not shop there,” the damage had already been done,” harrumphs Hoyt. Executive Editor Keller pules that his Mom would have found the piece “snotty.” A lower editor oh-dears that The Line Has Been Crossed…you know, that dread border beyond which lies the bleak and hopeless slough of snark.
Wait a sec. Have none of them noticed that the entire NYT fashion department, not to mention the entire fashion industry, has worshipped at the shrine of the skinny merink for approximately forever? Now, all of a sudden, it’s a terrorist incident when someone makes a few wisecracks on the subject?
What a parade of spineless, pablum-spewing, pants-wetting, pusillanimous milksops.
And just three weeks before we had this same Hoyt, this empty-eyed, hollow-cheeked thing that walks in the night, draining the lifeblood of the living, tearing into another female stylist, Alessandra Stanley. Unlike Wilson, Stanley at least made some errors, but you might have spared her the public humiliation because, for one thing, she writes well. (And by the way, here comes a tightly guarded trade secret, people, so keep this under your hats: Everyone makes fucking errors! Even Harrison Salisbury blew one now and then. The New York Post doesn’t even bother running corrections because they would fill its entire news hole.) The Times, though most of its editors have never understood this, needs people who write well, which many newspaper reporters and columnists still don’t do, even at this late date.
Hoyt, Keller, the rest of you fatuous, Sanforized twits, let me explain something to you that for some reason they don’t teach in journalism school. I’ll make it simple: Funny not bad. Funny good! People like funny. Funny make people larf. People larf, people feel good! They maybe buy paper again. True, funny usually offend some jackball or other. Too bad! Why you always scared silly of a few whining dunces? Fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke. Know what else? Damn few people can do funny! You get one who can, you nurture her, you protect her, you give her a raise, you fucking treasure her…not stomp on head.
That clear? Or should I make this dull, pretentious and respectable—you know, Times style–so you can understand it?